How do I control and slay indriyas (senses)?


A complete description of senses and how to control them have been written by the great Seer Sri Swami Sivnananda. 'Control of the Indriyas by Sri Swami Sivananda'.


Senses are not different from Mind in 'Control of the Indriyas by Sri Swami Sivananda'.

Sri Swami Sivananda says about the senses:

Indriyas are objectified desires. Will to see is the eye. Will to hear is the ear. The Indriyas (senses) have two states, static and dynamic. When the desire begins to operate, the Indriyas are put in motion. This is the dynamic state. As soon as the desire is gratified, the Indriyas shrink through Tripti (satisfaction). This is the static or passive state.

Mind and Indriyas are one. Indriya is a prolongation of the mind. The sea is fed by the rivers; the sea cannot exist without the rivers. Even so, mind is fed by Indriyas and cannot exist without Indriyas. If you have controlled the Indriyas, you have already controlled the mind. Indriya is another name for mind.

Mind is a mass of Indriyas. Mind is a higher power than the Indriyas. Mind is a consolidated Indriya. Indriya is mind in manifestation. Just as a minister obeys the king, so also, the five Jnana-Indriyas act in accordance with the dictates of the mind. Indriyas represent backwaters. The desire in the mind to eat has manifested as tongue, teeth and stomach. The desire in the mind to walk has manifested itself as legs and feet. If you can control mind, you can control the Indriyas.

How to get control over senses

  1. By practicing Bhakti:

    Every morning, afternoon, evening, and night, offer all oner senses to God. All that one see, hear, do, touch, smell and think are all offered to God. Using this practice, one will see great progress day by day. Because one will naturally try to control onerself, since one want to offer ones best to God.

    Sri Swami Sivananda in Bhakti Yoga by Sri Swami Sivananda

    Bhakti softens the heart and removes jealousy, hatred, lust, anger, egoism, pride and arrogance. It infuses joy, divine ecstasy, bliss, peace and knowledge. All cares, worries and anxieties, fears, mental torments and tribulations entirely vanish. The devotee is freed from the Samsaric wheel of births and deaths. He attains the immortal abode of everlasting peace, bliss and knowledge.

    The fruits of Bhakti is Jnana. Jnana intensifies Bhakti. Even Jnanis like Sankara, Madhusudana and Suka Dev took to Bhakti after Realization to enjoy the sweetness of loving relationship with God.

    Knowledge or wisdom will dawn by itself when you practice Bhakti Yoga. Bhakti is the pleasant, smooth, direct road to God. Bhakti is sweet in the beginning, sweet in the middle and sweet in the end. It gives the highest, undecaying bliss.

  2. By practicing Self-enquiry:

    Daily question onerself, who are one? How can one, the Atman, be restricted by oner senses? How silly it is that the Infinite comes under the control of the finite, instead of the other way round. As one keep enquiring into onerself, one will find that oner attachments will fade away and oner senses will no longer be able to control one. This is because one will always try to get the authentic experience of onerself.

    Self-enquiry to remove the effect of the senses

    The gross body which is composed of the seven humours (dhatus ), I am not; the five cognitive sense-organs, viz., , the senses of hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell, which apprehend their respective objects, viz., , sound, touch, color, taste, and odor, I am not; the five cognitive sense organs, viz., , the organs of speech, locomotion, grasping, excretion, and procreation, which have as their respective functions speaking, moving, grasping, excreting, and enjoying, I am not; the five vital airs, prana, etc., which perform respectively the five functions of in-breathing, etc., I am not; even the mind which thinks, I am not; the nescience too, which is endowed only with the residual impressions of objects, and in which there are no objects and no functioning, I am not. …

    After negating all of the above-mentioned as “not this, not this,” that Awareness which alone remains – that I am. … The nature of Awareness [the Self] is existence-consciousness-bliss. (Ramana Maharshi, WHO, 11-2.)

  3. By practicing Selfless Service:

    Leave aside oner senses, and oner desires. There are people around one without even a morsel to eat. What use is my liberation, when my brothers and sisters are suffering. Go and selflessly serve others. As one keep serving others, oner own attachments and desires will seem meaningless and insignificant. God resides in all beings. By serving everyone, oner mind will become purified and oner senses will become under oner control.

    Sri Swami Sivananda says in 'Selfless Service by Sri Swami Sivananda'

    By doing service, you purify your heart. Egoism, hatred, jealousy, idea of superiority vanish. Humility, pure love, sympathy, tolerance, and mercy are developed. Sense of separateness is annihilated. Selfishness is eradicated. You get a broad outlook of life. You begin to feel oneness or unity of life. You develop a broad heart with broad, generous views. Eventually, you get Knowledge of the Self. You realise the 'One-in-all' and 'all-in-One'. You feel unbounded joy.


    Become a servant of humanity. This is the secret of attaining God-realisation. Seek out the lowly and the miserable; cheer up and bring a ray of comfort to them by serving them unstintingly. Console the disconsolate. Comfort the distressed. You will be blessed.

  4. By practicing Ashtanga Yoga:

    According to Ashtanga Yoga, the control of senses (Pratyahara) can be practiced with Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama and Pratyahara (which is control of the senses). Without practicing Yama and Niyama it is difficult to attain the control of the senses.

    Sri Swami Krishnananda says in 'Pratyahara'

    Vasishtha instructs Sri Rama in the Yoga-Vasishtha: "You can drink the whole ocean, you can shake the root of the mountain, you can drink fire, but you cannot control the mind." Like binding air in a little bag is your attempt to control the sense organs.

    Sensations are nothing but desires. They are not really connected with physical things. Wrongly do we feel that we love things, hate things, want things and do not want things, on account of the deceptive operations and the reports of the sense organs operating in this manner. Wild dogs are these sensations. They bark and may attack you, also.

    What do you do? You should not be carried away by the appearance of this tornado of the desire process. Here again a kind of self-analysis is called for. Sensations, as told already, are, only desires manifesting themselves, in these five formations. We want five things in this world: we want beautiful things to see, melodious things to hear, fragrant things to smell, delicious things to taste, soft things to touch. You have no other desire in the world except these. Though you may think that you have millions of desires, they are only five, basically.

Meditation is a part of the Ashtanga Yoga Technique

What generally we call as meditation is actually concentration. Real Meditation implies the complete absorption of the Subject upon the Object.

How will concentration (Dharana) help in sense control?

By focussing on one object (Your Guru's Form, The symbol AUM, or a flame in between the eyebrows or a mantra) you lose the focus on all other objects. That way one's senses will be forgotten and eventually the True Self shines forth.

Swami Vivekananda on One-pointed Concentration.

The sense-centres are within, and their organs without; drive them into the mind and through Dhârâna (concentration) fix the mind in Dhyana. Brahman is omnipresent in the universe as is butter in milk, but friction makes It manifest in one place. As churning brings out the butter in the milk, so Dhyana brings the realisation of Brahman in the soul.

Concentration is the essence of all knowledge; nothing can be done without it. Ninety per cent of thought force is wasted by the ordinary human being, and therefore he is constantly committing blunders; the trained man or mind never makes a mistake. When the mind is concentrated and turned backward on itself, all within us will be our servants, not our masters. The Greeks applied their concentration to the external world, and the result was perfection in art, literature, etc. The Hindu concentrated on the internal world, upon the unseen realms in the Self, and developed the science of Yoga. Yoga is controlling the senses, will and mind. The benefit of its study is that we learn to control instead of being controlled. Mind seems to be layer on layer. Our real goal is to cross all these intervening strata of our being and find God. The end and aim of Yoga is to realise God. To do this we must go beyond relative knowledge, go beyond the sense-world. The world is awake to the senses, the children of the Lord are asleep on that plane. The world is asleep to the Eternal, the children of the Lord are awake in that realm. These are the sons of God. There is but one way to control the senses—to see Him who is the Reality in the universe. Then and only then can we really conquer our senses.

These methods are not mutually exclusive

That is, one can practice bhakti, while at the same time serve others selflessly, while meditating a few hours everyday and enquiring about one's true nature!!

Sri Swami Sivananda says in 'The Synthesis of Yogas'

The Yoga of synthesis alone is suitable for this modern age. The four Yogas are interdependent and inseparable. Love is endowed in service. Service is love in expression. Knowledge is diffused love and love is concentrated knowledge. Karma Yoga is always combined with Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Yoga. Bhakti Yoga is the fulfilment of Karma Yoga. Raja Yoga is the fulfilment of Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga. Jnana Yoga is the fulfilment of Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Raja Yoga.

The importance of steady discipline and practice

Learning to read, learning to walk, learning to breath, nothing happens in a second. Everything takes time and everything requires constant practice. Similarly with sadhana.

Sri Swami Sivananda says in Control of senses by Sri Swami Sivananda

If you have the reins of the horses under your control, you can have a safe journey. The Indriyas are the horses. If you have the senses under your efficient control, you can have a safe journey in the path of Moksha. Indriyas cannot do anything without the help of the mind, their master and commander. Control of the Indriyas means control of the mind only. Control of thoughts leads to the control of mind and Indriyas also. It leads to the attainment of infinite bliss and eternal life. Control of thought is indispensable-a great desideratum for all.

The constant practice of sadhana will give one control over senses, emotions, arishadvargas, mind and even universe. One will merge into Reality.

All the best.

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